Blog

Allowance: When? How much? What for?

To give or not to give allowance, that is the question (and sometimes a controversial question at that). As piggy banks become obsolete and the need for physical cash dwindles in today’s fast-paced society, one thing hasn’t changed: the call of a child saying, “Hey Mom, I need money.” Whether parenting a 7-year-old or a 16-year-old, chances are pretty high that the A word (yes, allowance) is going to come up.

According to a T. Rowe Price survey, 51% of parents give their kids allowance. While the decision about whether or not to give allowances, the frequency of giving allowance and the amount of money that a child should receive for allowance can be highly personal to each family. 54% of parents who give allowance firmly believe it should be earned. 

Greenlight mom Maggy Parker shared, “I have always viewed allowance as a right of passage for my children. When the kids are old enough to take on regular responsibilities around the house, they are old enough to earn an allowance for their contribution.”

With age comes wisdom (and more allowance money) 

One of the most frequently asked questions about allowance focuses on what age is the best to start handing over money. While there are no official rules when it comes to allowance and each family is different, age 8 is the reported national average.  

Here’s a breakdown of what Greenlight kids average each week (ages 8-18): 

“I set my child’s weekly allowance after researching what the national average for allowance was and then cushioned it by a few dollars to ensure I was giving my son a little extra for his needs now that he’s driving,” said Greenlight mom Eliza Newell. 

Cha-ching, cha-chores! 

According to the most recent survey from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, four in five parents who give allowance expect their kids to work for money. and their kids average about five hours a week of household chores. 

With the majority of parents expect their kids to earn allowance, chores often factor in as a stairway to an allowance pay out — however, this can look different for different families. 

Some families expect a completed chore list for an allowance pay out. If the lawn isn’t raked, the Lego’s aren’t put away, the bathroom trash isn’t taken out and the reading log for the week isn’t filled out, no allowance gets paid. 

Other families assign specific dollar amounts to chores, so if the child only completes five of their eight chores for the week – they don’t get the total allowance amount, just what each task equaled. 

Greenlight dad Allen Anderson shared that he gives his daughter a baseline allowance every week, but he gives her the opportunity to earn more on a weekly basis by doing more chores. 

Allowance leads to smart habits

Greenlight kids who receive allowance save 26% more and donate 37% more money than those who don’t. This suggests that allowance, paired with parental guidance, leads to healthy financial habits.

Payouts made easy

When it comes to paying out allowance, it shouldn’t be complicated. Since remembering to get cash back at the grocery store or finding an ATM is a hassle, Greenlight has made it easier on parents by offering an auto-funding option.

Parents can set weekly or monthly allowance payments tied to chores within the Greenlight app, so funds can be easily distributed. 

To encourage good habits, parents can also allocate those allowances to their kids’ Spend, Save and Give accounts. 

Try Greenlight now

Sign up your family for Greenlight today! 

series B announcement

Greenlight Raises $54 Million to Empower Parents to Raise Financially-Smart Kids

Today, we announced $54 million in Series B funding. We’re thrilled to double down on our roadmap and reach even more families on our mission to empower parents to raise a generation of financially-smart kids. Full press release below.

Greenlight Raises $54 Million to Empower Parents to Raise Financially-Smart Kids

ATLANTA, September 16, 2019 – Greenlight Financial Technology, Inc. (“Greenlight®”), the fintech company on a mission to empower parents to raise a generation of financially-smart kids, announced today it has raised $54 million in Series B funding led by Drive Capital with participation from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Existing investors TTV Capital, Live Oak Bank and Relay Ventures also participated. The investment will fuel continued growth and accelerate the company’s development roadmap.

“Greenlight has built an incredible platform that makes it convenient and safe for parents and kids to manage their money. We’re proud to support their growth and help them on their mission,” said Chris Olsen, Partner at Drive Capital who has joined the Greenlight Board. “What attracted us to Greenlight is the scarcity of tech platforms empowering consumers to be more financially successful.”

Greenlight offers a debit card for kids that parents manage through the Greenlight app using flexible parental controls. The company has experienced rapid growth since launching its product in 2017, helping more than half-a-million parents and kids manage daily family finances. 

The Greenlight product allows parents to choose the exact stores where their children can spend, manage chores and allowances, set parent-paid interest rates on savings and more. Kids monitor balances, create saving goals and learn to make real world trade-off decisions.

“At Wells Fargo, financial literacy and helping our clients succeed is a part of our core values,” said C. Thomas Richardson, head of Strategic Partnership Investing at Wells Fargo. “Greenlight offers parents an opportunity to build that core competency of financial literacy in their child’s formative years, through its innovative, interactive and fully digitized product offering. We are impressed by Greenlight’s rapid growth, and we are excited to help fuel the next phase of its development.”

The Series B funding will accelerate Greenlight’s mission-driven roadmap to weave more educational layers into the app experience along with investing, to get kids familiar with the tools to build long-term wealth.

“We’re thrilled to partner with our Series B investors to bring Greenlight to millions of new families and help parents prepare their children for healthy financial futures,” said Tim Sheehan, CEO and Co-Founder of Greenlight. “In the near future, I hope that this generation of kids grow up to spend wisely, learn the importance of saving and feel confident investing to build wealth over the long-term.”

For more information on Greenlight, please visit greenlightcard.com, or follow Greenlight on Facebook and Instagram.

###

About Greenlight:

Founded in 2014, Greenlight Financial Technology is an Atlanta-based fintech company that’s committed to empowering parents to raise financially-smart kids. Its groundbreaking family finance product, Greenlight®, is a debit card for kids that parents manage by app using flexible parental controls. Patent-pending technology enables parents to choose the exact stores where their children can spend, manage chores, set parent-paid interest rates on savings and more. Kids monitor balances, create saving goals and learn to make real world trade-off decisions.

The Greenlight Card is issued by Community Federal Savings Bank, member FDIC, pursuant to license by MasterCard International. For more information, please visit: greenlightcard.com.

Can Video Games Teach Smart Money Skills?

XBOX, PlayStation, Nintendo, Steam. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard your kids talking about these video game consoles and platforms along with their favorite games like Madden, Fortnite, Mario Kart and Minecraft. With 75% of American households having at least one gamer in the house, we’re not surprised by the wave of Greenlight families sharing their gaming experiences with us. 

Whether your kids prefer mobile gaming or they kick it old school with Nintendo, video games can quickly become a favorite pastime and a recurring cost. Americans spent $43 billion on video games in 2018 and the numbers keep growing, which is why we think video games can be leveraged as an excellent tool for parents to motivate their kids to make smart money decisions. 

Knowledge is power 

With so many different consoles and video game franchises on the market, teaching young gamers to do their research develops smart habits that can apply to future large purchases. Important questions to consider include: 

  • How much does each gaming console and individual game cost?
  • What are the differences between each video game platform and what makes them special? 
  • Which games interest them the most? Which platform is the right fit? 

In Greenlight mom Natalie Jensen Young’s house, her three kids (ages 14, 16, 18) make the best decisions for their individual gaming interests.

“My kids each have different gaming preferences. One loves his Switch and the Xbox. One loves his PS4 and Xbox. One loves her Wii U. They all love the 3DS. They have all saved up for these machines, doing their research, and finding out which games are on which platforms. They get a set amount of money each week for jobs completed around the house — they save up for the games they want.” 

It’s never too early to study the fine print 

Since video games often feature in-game purchases for accessories or level boosts, it’s critical to teach kids vigilance when it comes to downloading games with monthly fees. By linking a Greenlight card to these in-game add-ons, kids gain visibility into miscellaneous charges that are often associated with mobile purchasing while parents protect their own credit cards from these charges. 

“My kids have the cards attached to their XBOX, PC and phone accounts. It’s so much better than having my card attached and them accidentally buying stuff. Plus, it taught them to be careful of things like recurring charges or hidden fees. They are much more careful of what and how they buy now,” shared Greenlight mom Alysson Browning. 

Screenshot of child's Greenlight balances, including an Online Gaming greenlight.

Level up with a video games budget

Due to the fast pace of the gaming industry, new trends can keep prices steep. Use these updates as an opportunity to talk about a magical thing called budgeting. Discuss how your child can’t get the latest game in their favorite franchise without the proper savings or budget.

With Greenlight, parents have the ability to limit how much kids spend on games, which helps eager gamers from going overboard.

Ohio mom Heather Renee Gilbert shared the secret to her game-loving son’s success.

“My son uses his Greenlight card for Xbox games. I created an Online Gaming greenlight for him where I put money specifically for that purpose into it. He earns that money with grades at school and his behavior. Having the greenlight specific for gaming is amazing because if I didn’t set a limit on what he spent on games, he would blow through all the money I gave him on just that. Now he knows exactly what he can spend on his games. No game money in the greenlight means he can’t spend more than what he has.”

Screenshot of Greenlight's spend controls, where parent can manage how much children can spend in certain categories.

Talk that gaming and finance talk with your kids

Raising financially-smart kids sometimes means getting crafty with teaching opportunities. The more relevant the topic, the more engaging the conversation can be. If your kids are into video games, why not start money talks around one of their favorite things?

Greenlight can help

Sign up your family for Greenlight today to explore your own lessons in earning, spending, saving and giving.

Child using Greenlight app

Greenlight Offers Options for Off-The-Grid Kids

We’ve heard from many of you that you’d like the ability to set up child accounts for your kids without phone numbers. Our newest update solves this by enabling parents to register their children with a username and password. No phone number required.

With this update, kids with iPods, tablets, or other smart devices can log into the Greenlight app and explore lessons in earning, spending, saving and giving.

How to set your kids up

steps for setting up Greenlight app for kids
From your child’s profile within the Greenlight app, click into the child’s settings. Select Enable App Usage and create a username and password. And off they go.

Kids can monitor their own balances

With the trend toward more digital purchases, kids no longer see their wallet getting smaller as they spend cash. Greenlight gives your kids the ability to check and manage their balances to make sure they’re within budget.

GFX: Child view of spend, save and give balances.

Greenlight tip: We recommend setting time to talk with your kids whenever you give them allowances. Together, discuss distributions of allowances between Spend, Save and Give and discuss why you’re making these choices.

Request greenlights

Kids can send requests, also known as Greenlights, when they want to make purchases outside of their Spend Anywhere account or any of the Greenlights you currently have set up.

Child sending spend request for parent to approve

For kids, this gives them a path to request money if they’re in a pickle. And for parents, this gives you the ability to safely distribute funds for purchases you’re comfortable with.

Showcase the power of saving

Saving for short and long-term goals can be challenging, especially when the satisfaction of taking a full piggy bank to the local teller is a figment of banking past. 

With the Greenlight app, kids can see how they’re progressing toward saving goals line-by-line. They can watch that money grow as you add Parent-Paid Interest and see balances update in near real-time. Bet your old piggy bank couldn’t do that. 🐷

Child viewing save history with Greenlight app.

Greenlight kids save 3x more than the national average. It’s never too late to kick off conversations, and present kids with real world scenarios to encourage saving.

Don’t have Greenlight yet? 

Get started by signing your family up today.

Greenlight family back-to-school shopping.

Back-to-School Shopping with Greenlight

There are tons of guides out there with tips on how to squeeze the most out of your back-to-school budgets. 

In this post, we talk about how to bring your kids along for the back-to-school shopping ride. In fact, we think it could be time to put them in the driver’s seat — with some adult supervision, of course — to teach them first-hand about trade-off decisions.

Start with a back-to-school budget.

Put that budget in your child’s Spend Anywhere account within the Greenlight app before you start shopping. When the child themselves makes the purchases on their Greenlight card, they will feel more responsible for how the funds are spent. 

Deloitte’s 2019 Back-to-School Survey reported the average family will spend $519 per child on supplies, electronics, apparel and accessories for the new school year. Start there, or with a budget your family is comfortable with.

Back-to-school budget in child's Greenlight account.

Attack the school supplies list.

  1. Get your 2019-20 supplies and clothes list in a spreadsheet. (Find one of our favorites here.)
  2. Have your kids take inventory of what they already have and what they need for next year. Spreading out items on the kitchen table or bed can spark conversations on what’s essential to purchase new this year versus what’s nice to have.
  3. Make a plan. We recommend starting with school supplies before going into the latest clothes and sneakers.

Shopping online?

Tons of experts have taken the hard work out of bargain hunting. Goodhousekeeping, U.S. News & World Report and The Krazy Coupon Lady and have already published their best deals guides to the 2019 back-to-school shopping seasons. Have your kids review these guides and prioritize their most important items.

Sit with your kids and shop around online for name-brand items, and see if you can find them at a lower cost across Amazon, Walmart.com or other budget sites. You can mark the best prices on your spreadsheet.

Pro tip: Target started School List Assist in 2017. Just search for your school and Target collects all your supplies in an online shopping cart. Do your research with your child to make sure you’re finding the best deals. 

Ready to brave the stores?

The budget can be made or broken in the crowded aisles of Walmart, Target, The Dollar Store or your local shops. To avoid the crowds, we recommend early in the morning or later in the afternoon during the week.

Bring your spreadsheet with you and know how much is left on your list. 

Have your tech-savvy kids download Shop Savvy. It’s a Greenlight fan favorite. While you’re at the store, scan barcodes to see if you’re getting the best deal around, and mark the best deals off the list as you find them.

Have your kids handle checkout. While they use their Greenlight, they’ll feel more ownership of the items they purchased. And hopefully they’ll take better care of their things now that they’ve been in charge of their budget.

Balance your budget before apparel shopping.

Reconcile your budget in the spreadsheet before going shopping for clothes, so your kids know how much they can spend.

Make deals with them or trade-offs for things that may fall out of budget. Have them prioritize what’s most important for now — what do they need now, and what can wait until later in the school year?

Let us know how your shopping goes!

Post photos of your kids on social media using #mygreenlight.

Haven’t joined Greenlight yet?

Get started by signing your family up today.

Greenlight’s Guide to Chores

Julie Lythcott-Haimes, author of How to Raise an Adult, gave a TED Talk in 2015 about setting the right priorities for your kids. She quoted the Harvard Grant Study (only the longest longitudinal study ever conducted) which concluded “professional success in life comes from having done chores as a kid.” 

We think chores are important too, which is why we launched a set of chores features in the Greenlight app in February of this year. Since then, we’ve actually had Greenlight families tell us that their kids have asked for MORE chores after instituting a routine.

“I have noticed that my kids volunteer to do more chores without asking since I have signed them up about a month ago. They enjoy tracking their spending, and more often think before they spend unlike with cash.”

When is the right time to start chores?

All families are different, and all kids are different. A chores routine can start as early as “getting clothes to the laundry basket” in preschool years. 

Back-to-school season is a great time to talk about getting back into routines, and asking your kids for input on what tasks need to be done. Another great time is birthdays, recognizing that with age comes new responsibilities.

Which chores do I choose?

Of all Greenlight families, the five most popular chores are:

Greenlight's top 5 most popular chores: 1. Clean your bedroom. 2)

Clean your bedroom is the most popular chore for all ages. Read is popular for younger kids, under the age of 10. Take out the trash heats up for children over 12 years of age. And wash the dishes is most popular around 15-17. 

Some other personal favorites from the editor: pick up after yourself, scoop the dog poop and be nice to your brother. “No cussing” has also been a fan favorite around the Greenlight office. A special shout out to the parents writing their chores in ALL CAPS. But we digress…

On average, Greenlight families institute 4.41 chores per child, and recurring chores are by far more popular than one-time. 

Here’s a helpful guide from the moms of Sunshine and Hurricanes with kid-friendly chores from preschool through 10 years of age.

Do I pay my kids for chores?

A recent T. Rowe Price survey on parents, kids and money saw that 51% of parents give their kids allowance, but the kids have to earn it. 

Ron Lieber, author of Greenlight staff favorite The Opposite of Spoiled, advises not to give allowances in exchange for chores. He says, “Allowances ought to stand on its own, not as a wage but as a teaching tool.” 

Chores teach accountability and responsibility. Allowances tangibly teach the practices of budgeting and saving. (More on allowances over the coming weeks.)

There are experts and Greenlight families, on both sides of the fence of this debate. We encourage each family to make decisions based on what will work best for them.

  • You may institute a chore schedule that includes standard tasks (like cleaning up bedrooms, doing laundry or walking the dog), and incentivizes more high-value tasks with monetary rewards on a less-frequent basis. 
  • You might consider an allowance to be regular payment for jobs well done. If the clothes are piled up on the desk instead of on the floor, little Sophia’s room still isn’t “clean” to mom’s golden standard.
  • You can tie chore completion to allowances. If the trash isn’t taken out, floor isn’t vacuumed and the dog poop isn’t scooped, you won’t get your allowance this week.

Whatever your chore routine, Greenlight can help you stick to it

With features like flexible scheduling and linking chore completion to allowance, Greenlight has helped thousands of families implement a routine.


Set chores that repeat weekly, or multiple times a week.

Greenlight chores scheduler

Or set one-time chores for bigger tasks like spring cleaning, babysitting or mowing the lawn.

Setting up a one-time chore.

Kids review and check off their chores as complete.

Child checks off chores when complete.

Review the chore schedule and manage scheduled payouts.

Parent reviews all chores in one view within the Greenlight app.

Don’t have Greenlight yet?

Get started by signing your family up today.

Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day 2019 with Greenlight

18.5% of Greenlight kids have spent money at Amazon

So by our predictions, your kids are probably already buzzing about Amazon Prime Day next week (July 15-16). Maybe they’ve been reading rumors of most epic tech markdowns or set up fancy price alerts to know as soon as their prized item is down to their savings goal balance. (Want price alerts of your own? Here’s one way to set them up.)

As always, we’ve been thinking about how Prime Day can fit into money talks, plus how Greenlight can help you manage spending safely. 

Time for budget talks

What makes a good deal? Fortunately, most kids are expert Googlers. Before they click for the checkout button, work with them to search for competing prices and to balance the value of the newest version of the computer or sneaker they’re eyeing vs. last year’s model.

Set up greenlights

Set up greenlights to control how much your kids can spend at Amazon. No shocking credit card bills. No overdraft fees. No surprises.

Amazon Prime Day 2019

Back to school is upon us

For some districts, school is back in session in July. Now is prime time (see what we did there?) to think about clothes, supplies and electronics your kids need for the next year. 

Bring kids into the conversation. Set a budget for each child and talk with them about Amazon deals fit into that budget. 

Pro tip: Scary Mommy will be live blogging the best back to school Amazon Prime Day deals next week. And we’re on the edge of our seats. 

We’re sitting on some great ideas on how to bring kids in on back to school shopping without getting in the way. Stay tuned – more on that topic over the next couple weeks.

Haven’t joined Greenlight yet?

Get started by signing your family up today.

Stops on a summer roadtrip.

Summer Spending & Saving with Greenlight

Summers are busy. Between visits to grandma, beach trips, summer camp, and the inaugural summer job (!), your kids may be spending tons of time away from home. Throughout the coordinated chaos, Summer offers great opportunities to continue money talks with your kids.

Family Vacations

Many families go on summer trips. In fact, 68% of you fine American families* will hit the road before school starts. 

Use this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about the value of saving. Discuss the tradeoffs you made throughout the year to fund your excursion and talk about the specific costs associated with you trip. 

Scholastic has a lesson with a couple handy worksheets – including a trip cost calculator in case you need a bit of help. (Don’t worry – we also learned a thing or two.)

Summer Jobs

For parents of teens, this summer may be the first one employed, and may it be the first of many. Before your kids pull out their Greenlight card to spend all of their Friday paycheck on Fortnight Battlepacks, remind them of the practice of saving. 

Work with them to develop a distribution plan for their paychecks. How much will they put into Save, Spend and Give accounts on a regular basis?

The first job is probably the first time your kids encounter the not-so-simple world of income taxes. And before you click away from this page in search of safer waters, know that the earlier you approach the subject of Uncle Sam with your kids, the more prepared they’ll be when the leave the house. 

Going over their pay stub is a great way to show teens how taxes impact their take-home pay. Talk with them about the purpose of social security, medicare, federal, state and local taxes. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a simple guide to the anatomy of a paycheck that may help. Remind them that smart budgeting (see savings tip above), helps you account for the tax you pay.

(Side note: did you know teens can directly deposit their paychecks into their Greenlight accounts?)

Back to School

In 2018, Deloitte estimated families spent $510 per child**, on average, on back to school expenses. Between clothes, electronics and general supplies, that’s a hefty penny. And also an opportunity to reinforce the conversation of budgeting, especially when it comes with the price tag of a new school year. 

Later in July, we’ll talk about how to instill healthy money habits into routines as the kids go back to school. Follow us on social media for the latest tips and tricks about money talks and recent updates to the Greenlight app.

Don’t have Greenlight yet? 

Get started by signing your family up today.

*2019 AAA Travel Survey

**Deloitte 2019 Back to School Survey


Money Skills to Teach Your Kids

Let Kids Manage Their Own Budget

The sooner kids realize the value of dollars spent, the quicker they’ll catch on to the importance of saving. When they have to make decisions on whether to spend or save their own money, they consider the trade-offs they are making. Kids learn a lot from managing their own money, and the sooner they get started the quicker they’ll learn.

Teach Kids about Saving

Greenlight provides a suite of tools to help create teachable moments around saving. Show kids their Greenlight Savings Account and explain how to make saving a habit. When they start earning some money of their own, encourage them to save some of it. You can allocate portions of allowance payments to Savings, to instill smart money management.

Teach Kids the Importance of Giving

One of Greenlight’s most unique features is Giving. Within the Giving tab of the app, kids can put their own money aside to donate or make a purchase for a nonprofit of their choice. Instilling this thought leadership when they are young will instill good prioritization in money management later on.

“It’s great that we can allocate a certain amount to ‘give.’ My daughter was so proud she had money to donate to kids in our district who struggle to purchase school necessities.

L.M.

Greenlight 2.0 – Jam-Packed With The Features YOU’VE Been Asking For

 

Hi everyone, Tim Sheehan, Greenlight Co-Founder & CEO here with some exciting news – Greenlight 2.0 is HERE! That’s right, if you haven’t already heard, the brand new version of Greenlight has just made its way onto the scene.

When we started mapping out what we wanted to include in Greenlight 2.0, we reviewed all of the amazing comments, suggestions, ideas, etc. we’ve received from our Greenlight families. All of that feedback helped us create this updated version of Greenlight that we hope you’ll love!

What’s new in 2.0?

 

New Look
You’ll notice immediately when you open the updated version of Greenlight that there is a new look and feel to the app. Our goal with this version was to make the app even easier to use while incorporating some great new features and functionality. I think the app looks fantastic especially when you add pictures of your kids.

ATM Access
Now, when your child needs cash (e.g., to buy something from a place that only accepts cash), you can add money to the “Any ATM” greenlight to set a specific amount that your child can withdraw from any ATM. (i.e., only the amount of money that the parent specifies in the “Any ATM” greenlight may be withdrawn from an ATM.)

Savings Goals
Also brand new in 2.0 is Savings Goals! This feature allows your child to set aside money for a specific purpose – like a new bike, cell phone, game, or trip – and visually see how they are making progress toward reaching that goal! Also, Greenlight kids will receive Parent-paid Interest on the money they save in their specific Savings Goals accounts.

Giving
Greenlight’s brand new Giving feature allows Greenlight families to allocate a certain portion of a child’s funds to be set aside for donations to charities and purchases from non-profit organizations. This is something that hits very close to home for many of us on the Greenlight Team. We have seen numerous Greenlight families express this same sentiment and request a feature that would make it easier to allow their kids to dedicate a portion of their money for charities that they are passionate about.

These are just a few of the many new and improved features within Greenlight 2.0. Don’t just take my word for it though, take a look for yourself! 🙂

Check out the new Greenlight app!

Don’t have Greenlight yet? Sign up now!

Have you already played around with the latest version of Greenlight? Does 2.0 get the Greenlight from you and your family? Please let us know by sending us an email or by messaging us directly within the Greenlight app (go to Settings > Help > Contact Us).

All of us at Greenlight are focused on 1 goal: to help parents raise financially-smart kids. We’ll continue to work hard toward that goal.

THANK YOU for being a Greenlight family! 🙂

Tim